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24 March 2022

Niccolò Fano Presents The New PhMuseum Masterclass On Curatorial Practice

24 March 2022 - Written by PhMuseum

The Founder and Director of Matèria Gallery in Rome tells us more about his decennial experience and offers some insights on the online 8-month program that he will lead from May onwards.

Installation view of André Mendes show - Courtesy of Matèria

If having the feedback of professionals at the beginning of your career is not always possible, CURA Online Masterclass represents a great chance to do so. The program is designed and guided by Niccolò Fano, the founder and director of Matèria Gallery in Rome, who will share many years of working and teaching experience with a selected group of participants. This unprecedented opportunity will strengthen your capabilities to present your work, which is something every day more important for photographers and art practitioners. To give you a better idea and help you out with your application, we talked with Niccolò who offered us some insights about the program and what makes a good candidate. Free applications are still open until 3 April, you can learn more here.

Installation view of Stefano Canto Sotto show - Courtesy of Matèria

Hi Niccolò! Tell us a bit about your gallery Matèria in Rome. You focus on photographic mediums and have a site-specific approach, can you tell us how they relate to one another on your projects?

I opened Matèria in 2015 after an extended period in the UK where I had the opportunity of gaining a great amount of experience on the contemporary dynamics of the photography and art market following the completion of a BA in Photography, an MA at Central Saint Martins, four years of work as project manager for artist Karen Knorr and a brief hands-on experience at Kate MacGarry gallery. My dream was always to open a space dedicated to the support, promotion, and development of visual arts and experimental practice through a working relationship with a selected number of artists on which to focus my efforts and build a common trajectory of growth with. The gallery initially started out primarily with an image-based interest and rapidly evolved in a multidisciplinary endeavor through the addition of selected artists working across all mediums of contemporary practice. The approach held throughout the gallery’s lifespan has been one of a dialogue between experimentation, production, and market dynamics. This often results in a site-specific approach to our gallery space and a risk-taking slant to our program. As a gallery that invests and covers all aspects of production for its artists, the challenge has always been the mediation between big ideas, sustainability, and longevity.

What is your curatorial vision and how does teaching find a place within it? Do you consider teaching a part of your role as a curator?  

I believe curatorial practice is an all-encompassing process that requires multiple skill sets and areas of competence. At the foundation of the profile of a curator lies the research and cultural apparatus in which teaching plays a fundamental role, both when analyzed from a student’s viewpoint and from the one of a lecturer who is in constant dialogue with a younger generation of future practitioners. Teaching furthermore is essential - if taken with the seriousness and importance it deserves - for the development of a competent and committed future for curatorial practices and the arts as a whole.

Can you explain what Matèria’s new Decentraland metaverse plot will be and how it will fit with the PhMuseum Masterclass? 

In the past few years, we have followed with great interest the rise and possibilities offered by Web3 and its applications to contemporary artistic practice. We invested early in a Decentraland plot with the intention of pioneering a series of artist residencies and projects centered around the dialogue between physical and digital production. Our wider interest in Web3 lies in the potential for new systems of production, community building, and safeguarding art and artists. Through the creation of a soon-to-be unveiled on-chain department for the gallery, we intend to leverage smart contract technology as a new medium through which secondary royalties can be automated and guaranteed to artists.

As part of the workshop, I have thought of adding the option and possibility of working on the plot as a further tool for experimentation when approaching the end of the workshop and the curation of the final project.

Installation view of Xiaoyi Chen show - Courtesy of Matèria

What can we expect from this new educational opportunity at PhMuseum? How do you envision the sessions to develop?

My curriculum for the workshop will be centered on time-tested and emerging methodologies tied to curatorial practice through a comprehensive lens directed on the arts sector and its contemporary status. Through the analysis of key areas such as identity, planning, curation, logistics, and commercial variables, the workshop is structured to allow for a wide array of participants including photographers, artists, gallerists, and those who are still unsure about their exact role within the arts. To give substance to each of the aforementioned key areas of interest, I have invited a carefully selected group of guest lecturers to add experience-based insights to the subjects discussed, alongside the direct feedback provided by the studio visit program. Moreover, the course aims to find its organic culmination in the final project at the gallery/dcl plot; a project through which to apply and test the notions acquired.

In your opinion, what is a key aspect that makes the difference between the PhMuseum Master Class opportunity and other educational opportunities for curators? 

The extended timeframe and final objective of the workshop are surely an added value and a key feature for the development of substantive discussions on the main notions in the curriculum and their application to the participant’s personal work. The wide array of professional figures involved guarantees for a balanced and diversified set of examples, allowing for a wide range of experienced voices to converge on an increasingly malleable and hard to define area such as the one occupied by curatorial practice.

What makes a good candidate? What will you value in the applicants?

Curiosity, care for one’s work, and flexibility are key. No prior experience is necessarily required and I look forward to welcoming a range of diverse applicants in order to ensure that the final group is far from homogenous, yet suitable to undertake the multiple features and challenges of the workshop.

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Free applications are still open until 3 April, you can learn more here.
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Niccolò Fano (Rome,1985) holds a BA in Photography at the University for the Creative Arts, a Masters degree in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins and a Creative Ventures MBA scholarship from London Business School. In the UK he has taught at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London and the UCA in Farnham. He currently lives in Rome where he is the founder and director of Matèria. Based in the neighbourhood of San Lorenzo, Matèria opened its doors to the public in 2015. The gallery proposes an exhibition programme that touches upon all aspects of Contemporary Art. Niccolò is currently Program Director at the Rome Institute of Photography (ISFCI) and has taught as visiting lecturer for Officine Fotografiche Roma, Rome University of Fine Arts, IED and Luiss Business School.

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CURA is part of the PhMuseum educational program. It´s the online contemporary curatorial practice masterclass. Designed for authors, emerging curators, and gallerists, focused on surveying the relevant aspects surrounding the planning, curation, logistics, and commercial variables within the realm of contemporary exhibitions and gallery/artist relations. Under the guidance of Niccolò Fano, founder, and director of Matèria gallery in Rome, participants will work on the development of personal curatorial concepts and receive the tools to structure a coherent exhibition proposal. The program encompasses group classes, one-to-one mentoring, studio visits and panel discussion, as well as a digital curatorial residency. Find out more at phmuseum.com/education/masterclasses/cura

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